The Science Behind Why We Like Certain Food Pairings

(Image credit: Faith Durand)

A few months ago we asked you to share your favorite ingredient pair-ups. The crowd-sourced list had a few reliable favorites: avocado and egg, tomato and basil, peaches and cream. But besides tasting delicious, there are actually legit scientific reasons behind our favorite flavor pair-ups.

Bon Appétit recently wrote an article delving into the science of flavor pairings. With the help of Joe Peragine, a senior flavor chemist at Brand Aromatics, and Paul Breslin, a sensory scientist at the Monell Chemical Senses Center, they took nine common pairings—pineapple and ham, pickle juice and whiskey, french fries and ice cream, pears and blue cheese, chile powder and fruit, strawberries and balsamic vinegar, salt and caramel, apples and peanut butter, and bacon with everything—and dissected why those flavor combos are so enticing. Here are a few excerpts from their findings:

For French Fries and Ice Cream: “Ice cream and starches have hung out together for ages (think cake and ice cream), so it’s not wild to think that the pairing would taste just as good—if not better—if the starch were fried. Add a little salt and you’ve got the beautiful polygamous marriage of crispy, sweet, and salty.”

For Apples and Peanut Butter: “Apples lack both salt and fat. And that’s no fun. Adding the fats and salt found in nut butters provides a satiating element to water-based foods like apples, celery, and even carrots. This paring works particularly well with tart apple varieties such as Granny Smiths and Braeburns.”

For Pineapple and Ham: “Really fatty foods, like ham and other meats, tend to leave your mouth feeling fatty, which is an undesirable state… Enter the pineapple. The fruit, which is naturally acidic, cuts through that greasy mouthfeel, creating a balanced (and tasty) result.”

See the Whole List and Read More: There Might Be a Real Reason We Like Pineapple and Ham Together | Bon Appétit

(Image: Faith Durand)